What I wish I had known about Saipan before going...
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Apr 26, 2013 6:09 PM Last Post By: mattlv
Feb 7, 2012 5:31 AM
What I wish I had known about Saipan before going...First off, for me one full day on Saipan was plenty. Undoubtedly, the island is pretty and has some fine scenery to boot, but to me none of it has stood out in any particular way compared to other Pacific islands I have visited. It's pleasant, but no more than that.
I’ve also found Saipan to be pretty uninspiring and strangely bizarre in some ways. It’s painfully obvious that it has not recovered from its apparently significant reduction of Japanese tourist arrivals since the 80ies and 90ies. There are many Korean and especially Chinese tourists around now, in consequence of direct flight connections from Seoul and a couple of cities in mainland China (I ran into usually noisy and boisterous Chinese tour groups everywhere on the island), yet their numbers apparently haven’t made up for what’s been lost in tourist arrivals in the past. I have hardly seen any other Western tourist on the whole island beside me.
Driving around Saipan you can’t fail to notice how many of the large tourist resorts have either not been renovated in quite some time, or have actually fallen into disrepair and been abandoned entirely. Garapan’s tourist strip is in an equally sorry state with many closed shops, and with the ones open not appearing to make a roaring trade either. 24/7 Poker Houses are everywhere, as are more or less ambitiously concealed naughty massage parlors.
I took a rental car around the whole island, stopping at all the sites of historic interest, most of which are obviously WWII related. That was quite worthwhile, but half a day is plenty to see all the significant ones. Micro Beach in Garapan is a pleasant spot to watch windsurfers and generally relax by the water. Watching the sunset is pretty nice from there is as well.
I stayed at the Century Hotel which is quite conveniently located in Garapan. It’s close enough to walk everywhere yet far enough removed from the pitiful tourist strip to be quiet and relaxed. The rooms are good value by Pacific island’s standards, especially compared to the FSM. I got a room&car deal for 95$ per day. It’s easy to arrange by email prior to arrival, and you can pick up the car at the airport while settling the bill for it directly with the hotel.
All in all I’d say that Saipan is not especially worth going out of your way for. I have looked at it as an convenient add-on to my tour through Micronesia, and as such it’s been okay, but not more than that.
Feb 7, 2012 10:42 AM
1Thanks for your post.
Interested in your comparison with central Micronesia, since you thought Saipan was dead.
Feb 7, 2012 12:20 PM
Oct 23, 2012 6:13 AM
3I'm heading to Saipan next month (Nov 2012) and hoping the beaches will be empty.
What I'd like to know is, where can we drive to and snorkel out to some OK coral?
I realize it wont be that fantastic but I'd like to do it without going on a tour.
Oct 23, 2012 2:34 PM
4I'm sorry, I can't give you advice on this. Best ask locally when you get there. I'm quite certain there are some places that give you that opportunity. I didn't do any snorkelling on Saipan, nor did I ask where it's possible. Good luck and enjoy your stay!
Oct 29, 2012 7:23 PM
5Contact Harry Blalock at Axe Murderer Tours. He gives some excellent dives directly from the beach and his definitely the most experienced. You can google him.
The beaches will be mostly empty and a bit unkempt with garbage strewn about on most of them. Don't leave your valuables out of your sight.
All that said, the water is gorgeous and violent crime is almost non-existant. We have lived here for two years and we love it.
Nov 16, 2012 6:48 AM
6Thanks for the advice.
We are on a Japanese package tour with a lot of free time and would like to get away from the others on the same tour.
We just want some warm weather and to put our heads under the water with our snorkel gear on.
If Harry Blalock does beach entry dives, there should be some decent snorkelling around the area. I'll look into it.
Nov 24, 2012 5:24 PM
Apr 26, 2013 6:09 PM
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